When it comes to difficult times, eating your way through them may not be the healthiest option, but it’s what a lot of us do. The cheap comfort foods from our childhood add some type of healing during the hardest moments.
What Cheap Comfort Foods Speak to You?
When I was a little girl and was crying over someone picking on me or anything that made me sad, the women in my life were there to offer a shoulder and some words of encouragement. Served alongside that love was cheap comfort foods that were meant to warm the insides.
I remember my great-grandmother, who lived next door, putting butter on Ritz crackers and serving them to me. Sounds gross, but trust me it was not. I need to just not know that exists now, or I’ll gain a ton of weight. ha ha!
She also made the best cornbread sticks in a cast iron pan that you’ve ever had in your life. Again, lots of butter melted on top. There’s something about ooey, gooey buttery comfort food that is budget friendly and heart-warming at the same time.
Ideas for Cheap Comfort Foods
I think back to some of the things my grandmothers ate that bring back instant memories of them. The other day, I opened a can of peaches and the memories of my sweet Mamaw Margaret came flooding back. She loved to put canned peaches on ice cream or cottage cheese. It was her treat. She may not have been rich financially, but she lived a rich life filled with the love of her grandchildren.
The smell, texture and even the can all brought those memories flooding back. My grandmother has been gone well over 30 years, yet the pain of losing her hit me fresh. At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to be sitting in her kitchen with her as she listened to the radio and ate her peaches and ice cream. It’s funny how a simple food brings back so many recollections.
What are your favorite memory foods that bring back a moment of your childhood? Here are some other ideas for cheap comfort foods. Some are things my mother made for me, aunts, grandmas and others in my life.
Ideas for Comfort Food on a Budget
- Grilled cheese and tomato soup
- Pan fried corn bread
- Soup beans with the corn bread (drool)
- Fruit cobbler and vanilla ice cream
- Ice cream and fresh fruit
- Homemade pizza
- Cheap boxed macaroni ‘n’ cheese
- Easy and Delicious Budget Lasagna
- Homemade cookies
- Peanut butter and jelly
Just the mention of some of these foods likely created some nostalgia and brought memories flooding back. You’ll notice they all have something in common. All are fast to make when your child needs some extra love in the form of comfort food, they are inexpensive and filled with carbs.
While I’m not advocating eating your way through your emotions at all and realize the psychological ineptitude of doing so, it won’t change the fact that many of us do need comfort food sometimes. As long as you eat these things in moderation as part of a healthy diet, they won’t destroy you.
Healthier Comfort Food Options on a Budget
If you’re looking for some healthier comfort food options that are still inexpensive, try mixing things up a bit and creating healthier versions of the above favorites.
- Choose lower carb bread real cheese for your grilled cheese. Make your own tomato soup with less sodium.
- Replace pan-fried corn bread with actual corn. Although corn isn’t very healthy either, anytime you go to the whole food instead of processed, you’re doing your body a favor.
- Soup beans are pretty healthy. Just lose the corn bread on the side.
- Eat fresh fruit with plain yogurt instead of ice cream (hint: you can freeze the yogurt for about an hour for an ice-cream like treat).
- Choose high protein pasta or make an omelette and add pasta sauce and cheese. Eggs take on the taste of what they’re cooked with.
- Choose a gluten free pizza crust or make a low carb version of your favorite pizza with an egg, almond flour or cheese crust. One of my favorites is Nancyelle’s Thin and Crispy Pizza Crust. I have a tried a lot of low carb options and always go back to this one for crispness and taste.
- Nibble on cheese cubes rather than cheese with butter and noodles. You can add some nuts on the side if you need some crunch. Cheese is still creamy and satisfying.
- Create a noodleless lasagna or use eggplant or zucchini for the noodles.
- Indulge in a sugar free dessert you make or buy.
- Sub out the jelly in your PBJ with sugar-free and use a whole grain bread or low carb option. You could also just eat a spoonful of peanut butter spread on fresh fruit such as apples.
There are many ways to make your comfort foods a bit healthier and still stay on budget.
What Is the Top Comfort Food?
Everyone has a different opinion on which comfort foods are best. Most of the activities we participate in as a society involved food. We eat dinner with our families, gather in groups and eat out (of course, things are different at the moment, but we will return to this) and have reunions filled with good things to eat.
When I’m sick, I want orange sorbet, because my dad would always go get that for me. It makes me feel loved and cared for. When I’m sad, I want something sweet because after funerals we always gathered and ate dessert (or foolishness as one aunt used to call it). When I’m feeling nostalgic about a loved one, there are different foods associated with each one that I want.
Food has an amazing ability to bring cultures together, remind us of simpler times and even offer a little comfort. Used in moderation, it can be a balm to a wounded soul and help us remember that things don’t always stay the same. Difficult times come and go and when they are over, we can look back on who loved us and who poured into our lives, even if just with a cup of fresh squeezed lemonade made especially for us.